Island Spotlight

Blue Hills

An authentic seaside settlement.

By Davidson Edens Louis

Casting its shadow behind the illustrious neighborhoods of Grace Bay, Leeward, Long Bay, Turtle Tail, and Cooper Jack is Blue Hills. While often relegated to the sidelines, this timeless settlement has quietly nurtured and molded the lives of many Turks & Caicos Islanders.

This aerial view of the shoreline along Front Road in Blue Hills at sunset perfectly captures the settlement’s authentic beauty.

Stretching along the northwestern end of the island, this settlement stands as the oldest neighborhood on Providenciales, and at one point, the entire island bore its name, as noted on old French maps referring to Providenciales as “Blue Caicos.” Blue Hills, as we now know it, originated when returning fishermen at sea would witness the profound azure color of the water, saturating the entire coastline with deep shades of blue. The spectacle resembled an island painted in a palette of blues, and is the same natural wonder that draws exclamations from so many arriving tourists today.

The historically rich settlement holds a special place for various reasons. After the salt industry took off on Grand Turk and Salt Cay in the late 1600s, a few individuals moved to Providenciales and commenced a livelihood through subsistence farming and fishing.

In the late 1700s, Loyalists from the States came to the Islands to grow cotton and Thomas Stubbs built Cheshire Hall Plantation on Providenciales, the island’s most extensive. During this period, the settlements of Five Cays and The Bight gradually took shape. Blue Hills, being on the coast, became the hub of wreck salvaging in the Turks & Caicos. The numerous recorded wrecks serve as evidence of the perilous barrier reef off the north and west coast of Providenciales, well before the widespread use of GPS!

Ironically, shipbuilding later played a significant role in Blue Hills. Before international trade became prevalent, hand-built boats were crucial in the lives of locals. Sloops for fishing and inter-island transport were mostly built in Blue Hills and the spirit of these early boat-builders and the brave journeys of the fishermen and traders still linger on the shores.

The approximately 4.5 mile-long rugged coastline and beautiful rustic beach make for a unique beachfront with a deep history. Blue Hills, with its extended neighborhood of Wheeland, remains the most authentic and truest “Caribbean” part of Providenciales. A diamond in the rough, a hidden treasure, Blue Hills and Wheeland are one of my favorite places to be.

Lined with humble homes and churches on one side and dotted coconut trees on the coast side, Blue Hills remains the most authentic and truest “Caribbean” part of Providenciales.

Lined with humble homes and churches on one side and dotted with coconut trees on the coast side, the drive from Front Road to the end of Wheeland always brings back memories. Old shacks and huts of small businesses fill the area with a sense of commerce and hope after the onslaught of major hurricanes. Pockets of shaded areas on the beach serve as a refuge for potcake dogs and the occasional local who can’t resist the cool ocean breeze for a nap.

The coast is adorned with retired fishing boats, sections of sloops, and mature Casuarina equisetifolia (Australian pine). Cemeteries with white, chalky head tombs along the beach remain the final resting place for many locals, but between them, wild sea grapes, sea oats, and beach vines live triumphantly. The Blue Hills pier comes alive on weekends and summers with fisher-folk, children, and those reporting news from the coconut grapevine. A basketball court in Wheeland provides youngsters with a place to dream of fame. It’s a nostalgic spot, as I was one of those boys.

On full moon nights, the sea sparkles like diamonds. As a child, I never knew sargassum was invasive; I simply enjoyed popping its green berries. The beach, filled with treasures deposited by the ocean, held a mysterious allure. Collecting crab carcasses, washed-out sea fans, broken shells, and old boat ropes formed cherished childhood memories, creating a sense of closeness to the sea.

This is for everyone who shares a similar upbringing. It’s okay to have had a humble beginning in Blue Hills and Wheeland, for it is truly a piece of paradise that deserves more celebration.

Rachel Wolchin once said, “If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have had roots instead of feet.” On this quest to self-discovery, Turks & Caicos Islander Davidson Louis vowed to travel, write, paint, laugh, and forgive. Subsequently, he hopes to find himself and or, leave behind a few pieces of himself. Follow his weekly columns in the Turks & Caicos Weekly News and his art on Instagram @daviid.l2.

Forgive the cliché, but a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. Kennon Higgs, a Turks & Caicos Islander and a self-taught drone pilot, photographer, and videographer, began his photography journey in late 2021. That’s when he, without any prior photography experience, bought his first drone and embarked on a mission of mastery. With the goal of showcasing the Turks & Caicos Islands’ beauty and culture through the most organic lens, Kennon aims to hone in on his craft and continue to capture and share moments that even a thousand words could not do justice. You can see more of his work on Instagram @tcidronestudios.

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On the Cover

South Caicos was once a major exporter of salt harvested from its extensive salinas. Award-winning Master and Craftsman Photographer James Roy of Paradise Photography ( created this vertical composition by assembling a series of six images captured by a high-definition drone which was a half a mile away from his position.

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